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Driving range wants and needs

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An acquaintance of mine bought the local driving range that Ive spents quite a bit if time at the last couple years. He has what I feel is reasonable idea and plans to make the place more appealing to all levels of play. 

Since Ive been out of the game for surgery, Ive spent some tine in their passing time while recovering. We do a litttle brainstorming from the owners side and the consumers side.

So I thought I would run it through here. What do you want, need, or woukd like to see in a driving range? Merchandise? Services? 

Do you buy anything from your driving range or is it just a place to grind for an hour and leave me alone. 

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An acquaintance of mine bought the local driving range that Ive spents quite a bit if time at the last couple years. He has what I feel is reasonable idea and plans to make the place more appealing to all levels of play. 
Since Ive been out of the game for surgery, Ive spent some tine in their passing time while recovering. We do a litttle brainstorming from the owners side and the consumers side.
So I thought I would run it through here. What do you want, need, or woukd like to see in a driving range? Merchandise? Services? 
Do you buy anything from your driving range or is it just a place to grind for an hour and leave me alone. 


I think merchandise sales would be tough without an actual course.

Thinks I would look for:

Lessons
Short game targets. More than 50, 100, 125, etc.
range membership
If no membership Multi bucket discounts, buy 9 get the 10th free type of thing.
Covered area for weather protection
A big reach would be launch monitor type info.
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A “fairway” bunker, almost every golf course has fairway bunkers, yet I don’t see any driving ranges anywhere that have a bunker that you can full swing out of. There is no place to practice hitting out of a fairway bunker. 

Range memberships work well, or some type of discount for the guys that come often. Also a discount for juniors. Or family things, something like Dad buys a bucket, kid gets a small bucket free. Maybe a way to get more families together on the range

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5 minutes ago, cnosil said:


I think merchandise sales would be tough without an actual course.

Thinks I would look for:

Lessons
Short game targets. More than 50, 100, 125, etc.
range membership
If no membership Multi bucket discounts, buy 9 get the 10th free type of thing.
Covered area for weather protection
A big reach would be launch monitor type info.

 

@cnosil covers it pretty well.  I agree the it would be tough to sell merchandise unless you offered better deals than other golf equipment options in the area.  Tough to do since OEMs frown on price cutting new clubs; one local club lost their Ping clubs that way.

Other than driving ranges at full-sized golf courses, we have a couple of driving ranges.  One was grass driving range for a number of years, and eventually they put a short 9-hole par 3 course around the outside of the range.  It's nicely kept up and a good place to practice short game.  They have very little in the way of merchandise, but they had a putting green and pitching green with a practice bunker.  It's a great place for beginners and seniors.  They give lessons, but there are no amenities.

The other driving range is associated with a full golf shop.  It started out as just a golf shop, then expanded to a driving range.  It's mats only, but it's covered, has heaters installed above and misters for the summer; nice for those cold winter and hot summer days  They have a range ball dispenser that is activated by a code after purchase by bucket size or they rent you a "key" by the month or year that dispenses balls.  The number of buckets per day is controlled.  The balls are stored inside the building and dispense outside in the range area.  There is no short game area or putting green; wish the had them, since it's only a few blocks from my house.  They carry the major OEM clubs and clothing plus a lot of accessories.  You can try new clubs with the face taped, and they have a launch monitor available.  Everyone that works there is a good player (scratch or + handicap) and they have a PGA Teaching pro.  It's probably where golfers in my area buy 90% of their equipment unless they get deals at their clubs.

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Definitely have to second the bunker suggestion. There are only 2 places within an hour of me that have a short game practice area complete with bunker. Number of places (course or range) I've ever visited that have a way to practice long bunker shots or fairway bunker shots... ZERO. I'd imagine maintenance costs have a little to do with it, but I think an easy solution would be to have multiple (maybe 2 or 3) small "bunkers" no bigger than a range mat for people to practice out of. They don't need to have a lip or anything for people to work on their stance and swing. That's all I'd really care about. 

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I would love to have a long bunker shot practice area, but there is no such thing in my area at any range.  Could a range have one?  Most likely if they have a little extra room, would they use it to put in a bunker or a few more range stations?  My guess is range stations; more people buying balls.

Bunkers are expensive to maintain; many courses have taken some out to cut costs.  I feel blessed that my course has a decent range and a short game practice area with a bunker by the pitching green, but when I go there I rarely see anyone practicing out of the bunker and believe me, many golfers at my course need to!!  Most of the time people show up, hit a bucket of balls on the range, spend less than 5 minutes on the putting green, then head to the tee.  I know many of the regulars at my course, and probably less than 10 people actually spend more than 30 minutes on the pitching green area and I know of only one person who hits bunker shots for 20 minutes or more.  It's one of the reasons that I spend most of my practice time in the short game area; the range is usually full, especially on weekends.  

Yes, I would like to have a practice fairway bunker, but as a member I can head out on the course when it's mostly empty and practice out of fairway bunkers.  Should a range put in a fairway practice bunker?  It would depend on the maintenance costs and a determination of how many people would benefit.  Except at high end courses, using the practice area is usually free.  There is no additional revenue that pays for bunker maintenance.

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This is probably a huge wish list thing for me as I don’t have something like this near me.

 

A dedicated short game practice range. An 80yd stretch of land with a large green that has multiple holes that rotate daily. In this short game area there would be different cuts of rough and fairway so people can work out of different lies and situations.

 

There was a place like this at my local muni (Mud Run Golf Course) when I lived in Akron, OH and I did not take full advantage of what this practice area could have done for my game.

 

 

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Thanks guys.

 

He is adding  some kind of indoor simulator that you can rent to play different courses I believe sial in your yardage .  There is a bunker but it more designed for greenside play. Great idea on a fairway bunker. He has addded heaters and has most everything mentioned and just started carrying a major  OEM of putters, metals, wedges, and balls. His merchandise is some raingear, balls, tees, gloves, local college bling, Footjoy, and basic odds and ends. 

The range is a mile from my club whixh is semi private with a bunch of retirees that are very frugal and in a capital city which is notorious for being very tight with money spending. 

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On 1/10/2019 at 12:46 PM, Kenny B said:

Most of the time people show up, hit a bucket of balls on the range, spend less than 5 minutes on the putting green, then head to the tee.

Kind of sounds like me at my course on Saturdays. LOL

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I use the range at my club. It has everything really. Two sided, fairway trap, long bunker trap, rough for full shots, two chipping, pitching greens, two putting greens.

Im spoiled in this regard


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Ideal would be a short game area with a trap or 2 and a large, multi level green to chip to. And a separate putting green.

Chris

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I cant believe nobody jas mentioned balls or mats.  This is a driving range.  They are as essential to his siccess as beds and a shower are to a hotel. 

Dont skimp on balls   Get a good quality range ball—Stixon makes a good one—and please for the love of all things good---dont get the restricted flight balls.  Make sure he rotates them in on a regular basis.  Keep them clean and I'm good repair.  

Don't skimp on mats.  Good ones are expensive but if you get cheap ones that wear down in 5 months people won't come.  

Covered hitting area and heat are essential if you're in a seasonal climate.  

Ideally it would be nice to have a hitting studio.  That has permanent walls and interior and then an open garage door type access to hit onto the range.   And the door can close down in extreme cold and be an indoor instruction area.  

Hire a PGA pro if he is serious about lessons/fittings and club sales.   Most OEM have a very reasonable fitting cart program. And as Har mentioned, lots of demo days! 

Also right after balls and mats, to me is the actual range area.  As Cnosil said.  Lots of short gsme targets.  Well defined flags and landing areas for the longer shots.  Hopefully a nice looking grass area that you can clearly see your shots land. 

A lot have mentioned a practice bunker.  Nice thought.  We have one for short and long shots. And is litteraly never used.  Remember we are the 1% here.  Most average Joe consumers aren't going to come in and spend $10 or $15 on a bucket of balls and go "waste" them in bunker shots.   They want to bang the driver 50 times.  Ha    it's a nice thought.  But trust me it will get next to no use.  

Rather she that money spent on balls and the labor time spent on keeping the range grass looking nice. 

All the ideas about reduced or free things for kids to get them involved with Dad or the family are great and we do pretty well with that.  Consider a kids clinic in the summer. 

Those are the main things right off the top of my head. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I would love to have a long bunker shot practice area, but there is no such thing in my area at any range.  Could a range have one?  Most likely if they have a little extra room, would they use it to put in a bunker or a few more range stations?  My guess is range stations; more people buying balls.
Bunkers are expensive to maintain; many courses have taken some out to cut costs.  I feel blessed that my course has a decent range and a short game practice area with a bunker by the pitching green, but when I go there I rarely see anyone practicing out of the bunker and believe me, many golfers at my course need to!!  Most of the time people show up, hit a bucket of balls on the range, spend less than 5 minutes on the putting green, then head to the tee.  I know many of the regulars at my course, and probably less than 10 people actually spend more than 30 minutes on the pitching green area and I know of only one person who hits bunker shots for 20 minutes or more.  It's one of the reasons that I spend most of my practice time in the short game area; the range is usually full, especially on weekends.  
Yes, I would like to have a practice fairway bunker, but as a member I can head out on the course when it's mostly empty and practice out of fairway bunkers.  Should a range put in a fairway practice bunker?  It would depend on the maintenance costs and a determination of how many people would benefit.  Except at high end courses, using the practice area is usually free.  There is no additional revenue that pays for bunker maintenance.

I was wondering about the maintenance myself. If someone is hacking balls out if there all day long, how often do you need to replace sand?
Then again, if no one ever uses it, maybe maintenance isn’t too bad. But in that case, you are right it is better to put a few more bays in.


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Place a few colored metal targets out there that offer a loud “bang” when hit. Guys will drop a bucket of balls around 120yds trying to hit them....


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1 hour ago, CFrazier said:

Place a few colored metal targets out there that offer a loud “bang” when hit. Guys will drop a bucket of balls around 120yds trying to hit them....


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25 years ago there was a driving range off Kingston Pike in Knoxville TN that had an old pickup in the middle of the range... I aimed for the bed of the truck but was happy just to hit the truck anywhere.

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1 hour ago, romeopapazulu said:


I was wondering about the maintenance myself. If someone is hacking balls out if there all day long, how often do you need to replace sand?
Then again, if no one ever uses it, maybe maintenance isn’t too bad. But in that case, you are right it is better to put a few more bays in.

My favorite course to play in Phoenix was the old Thunderbird course on South Mountain.  When it went under, it was bought and renamed Vistal GC.  It is no longer there; I heard they were going to build houses on it.

The last time I played it, they were taking out some bunkers around some of the greens.  I was told that each bunker costs $7000/year to maintain.  Seemed steep but that probably included the daily maintenance time.

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4 minutes ago, Kenny B said:

My favorite course to play in Phoenix was the old Thunderbird course on South Mountain.  When it went under, it was bought and renamed Vistal GC.  It is no longer there; I heard they were going to build houses on it.

The last time I played it, they were taking out some bunkers around some of the greens.  I was told that each bunker costs $7000/year to maintain.  Seemed steep but that probably included the daily maintenance time.

I figured a lot, but was an order of magnitude off!  Around here, you'd need to sell 88,421 range balls to break even on that one fairway practice bunker. 

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Can’t really add more than what was already mentioned.
It is sad to think that in my area there is only one stand alone driving range in a reasonable driving distance. The 3 courses I usually play at all have a driving range area onsite. The closest one is revamping their practice range and adding in short-range and bunker practice areas which I am VERY excited about.


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+100 for @cnosil and @Golfspy_CG2.  I am always wishing for more targets shorter than 100yds.  And a landing area that is slanted enough that I can see if I am hitting the "green".  I don't think it has to be a manicured green, but something cut a little shorter would be nice.

I like the signs that give the real yardages to each flag when the tee boxes move up and back.  Having one of these in the middle and both sides of the range for those who go GPS route vs. rangefinder.

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